Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We're free. We're free! Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade

Lisa, a 10 month Social Action participant, recently attended the Gay Pride Parade here in Tel Aviv. Here's an excerpt of her blog post about the parade:

Parties. DJ's. Extravagant floats. Little to no clothing. A lot of sun. A fabulous beach party: this is how Tel Aviv celebrates Gay Pride. 

I feel that this is a necessary event to blog on. I had been hearing about the gay pride week in Tel Aviv pretty much from the moment I arrived, so naturally I was pretty excited. In the week leading up to the actual parade, there are nightly celebrations at clubs and daily dj sessions at the so-called "gay" beach. I was unable to make it to any of the parties during the week, but I had mentally prepared myself for the parade. My friend Rachel was visiting for the day (I met her at the leadership conference) and we, along with a few other of my friends, were ready for what was to come. We enjoyed a delicious buffet at a local vegan restaurant and then walked up the beach hoping to run into the parade...and run into the parade we did. As we reached Bograshov St., we found ourselves literally smack in the middle of the gay pride parade. As half of the parade headed south down Ben Yenhuda, we chose to follow the parade north. Good decision.

Up ahead we saw an amazing pink float that lured us in with it's blasting music (most likely Lady Gaga- this was a constant theme throughout the day). When we got close to the float we understood the large crowd. A pink float, donned in only pink, hosting a constant dance party of men and drag queens. What is not to love? We followed the float to the north of the city, dancing to it's music and celebrating the day. My favorite part had to be when a guy was frolicking through the parade yelling out "Hag Sameach!!" to the parade-goers. (Happy Holiday!!). Not only did I yell this back to him, but I have to say that this is my new favorite holiday of the year. 

You know you would follow this float...
a few of my friends enjoying the parade

The parade was absolutely amazing. I have never seen so many men dancing so fabulously in high heels. They need to give me some pointers on how to dance without falling on my face. The parade ended with the floats going one way and the crowd of people heading down to the beach. What would a parade be if it didn't end at a giant party on the beach? I don't hate it! After quickly changing into my bathing suit, I followed suit and jumped into the sea. Definitely the best way to cool off after being in the sun. After some time in the water, my friends Dante and Tiffany, decided that it was time to dance. Luckily Tiffany lives close to the beach and we made a pit stop at her apartment to drop off our belongings so we could dance care free. I have discovered that it is completely normal to walk around the streets of Tel Aviv wearing only a bathing suit. This city ceases to amaze me. With nothing to worry about, the three of us claimed a great spot on the "dance floor" and danced to the numerous performers that strutted across the stage. Let me just say that I have never been surrounded by so many beautiful men. Is it wrong that I wanted to be a gay man that day? 

beach party anyone?

Yes, this was another excuse to party, but it was actually amazing to see the crowd that showed up to celebrate. People were celebrating from there apartments as the parade went by- they were even nice enough to throw buckets of water on the paraders. In a lot of cities (especially in Israel), gay pride does not receive such a big celebration, and I felt honored to be there. One of the best things had to be that as the music blasted on the beach, the MC announced only 30 min left due to the start of Shabbat. In what other city would a beach party end due to the start of Shabbat? Sometimes I wish that Shabbat wasn't observed so strictly, but it added another element of Israeli society to the already ridiculous day. Tiffany, Dante, and I went back to her apartment where we cooked up an amazing Shabbat dinner. As I walked back down the beach at the end of the night, I was shocked and impressed to see that the beach that had been host to a fabulous party had been cleaned and there were only a few remains of the days happenings. I mean, not every rainbow flag could be picked up....

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